The 2014 North American International Auto Show is coming, but before that happens, there’s the Consumer Electronics Show, where Ford will show off a C-MAX Energi MPV with an array of solar panels. Called the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, it is the first MPV of its kind with a solar panel roof that allows it to get energy from the sun using a Fresnel lens, which tracks the sun from east to west pulling in solar vigor and giving the C-MAX a four-hour charge of energy.
In general, the vehicle is comparable to the C-MAX Energi plug-in with the only difference being the addition of the roof with solar panels. Meanwhile, a charge port is present and accounted for, presenting the consumer with another option for obtaining electric power for the car, with the solar option circumventing the grid, which still widely uses fossil fuels over other power sources. For reference, the current C-MAX Energi gets about 100 MPGe.
A joint project between Ford, SunPower Corp. based in San Jose, California and Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, the concept debuts after a record year of hybrid sales for Ford, selling more hybrid cars than either Toyota and Telsa in October and November of 2013. Additionally, The Blue Oval predicts that it will achieve 85,000 hybrid sales in 2013 when the final numbers are in, with the C-MAX Energi leading the brand’s plug-in car sales with more than 6,300 units sold through November 2013.
According to Ford data, the sun could possibly power up to 75 percent of all trips made by the average driver of a solar hybrid vehicle, which is essential in situations where drawing power from the electric grid is expensive, defective, or just not up to speed. But if all light-duty vehicles implement the technology seen in the Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, it’s possible to decrease annual gas emissions in the U.S. alone by one billion metric tons a year.
After its introduction at CES, the C-MAX Solar Energi concept will undergo real-life testing to determine production feasibility.